Profit Shouldn’t Be an Alien Concept

From The Gulf Coast Business Review:

Although Star Trek fans are not alone in thinking it would be fun to take a cruise on the starship Enterprise, government has largely dominated space travel throughout history. But a research paper by Rand Simberg, which was published by the Washington, D.C.,-based think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute, attempts to prove the private sector can boldly go where few have gone before — and more efficiently.

In the paper, Simberg argues for a different interpretation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The de facto reading of the agreement is as an international treaty preventing countries from staking claim to land in outer space.

However, Simberg, an aerospace engineer, says a new law granting the United States conditional permission to claim extraterrestrial land is internationally legal. His view: failure of the 1979 Moon Treaty to get even one signature nullifies the Outer Space Treaty.

Most economists agree on the efficiency of a free market with well-defined property rights. And with the NASA’s Space Shuttle program, which ate up an average of $1.5 billion of federal funds per launch, discontinued there’s a void that can test the efficacy of capitalism.

Concludes Simberg: “Development of the space frontier will continue to be held back, as it has for decades, by the lack of clear off-planet property rights.”